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Comparing productivity

A couple of months ago, we were given some to fill in concerning our son. I took one look at it and was at once ill at ease with it. I usually don't duck for tasks, but the form ended up on the Todo-board in the kitchen. I don't know if this is only common for Sweden, but here we have these checkups for our kids and this is the final checkup before he starts school this autumn.

Since the checkup is next week, I finally this weekend took the time to fill out the form. And I was amazed by the questions. How could I possibly answer these questions? Example:

How has your child's language skills evolved?
1) Faster than or average
2) Slower than average
3) Much slower than average

Which average? Well, I can admit that I'm not that kind of mother who reads all books on child development and who can tell you the average age for everything and a little bit more. I never subscribed to any mommy magazines and the only blogs I read are about software development, leadership, agile and lean. But even if I did that? What would I compare with? The kids in his group at kinder garden? All children in Sweden? All children in the world?

But then I stopped and thought. What do they want to know? Perhaps they want to know how worried I am about Peter's language skills. I don't know, but I do know what these questions leads to; mothers comparing their kids and mothers worrying about their kids. And this brings us to project managers; they are the worried mothers of software development. There is no form out there but the same type of questions are discussed. The question can be of how successful a project is or how productive team members are.

How productive is your team members?
1. More than or average
2. Not as productive as average
3. Much less productive than average

I know that this is stuff you want to know, but there is no intelligent answer to this question. Try answering this question:

How much do you love your kids?
1. More than or average
2. Less than average
3. Much less than average

If you're asking questions concerning how productive your developers are compared to other developers, stop and think. Why are you asking this question and is there really an intelligent answer? And finally; is it worth the trouble finding the true answer and will the productivity increase by you chasing these numbers?

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Categories: Agile
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